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Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill has today confirmed that Dorset Police Marine Section will not be disbanded.
This follows a review by Dorset Police and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, which was borne out of the Government budget cuts.
At present, the Force has one police sergeant, four police constables and two marine special constables. The new section will have one police sergeant, two police constables and will be supported by marine special constables. It will be based in the Dorset Police marine office at Poole Harbour. The new structure will come into effect in late May 2013.
The Force has ten marine special constables at present. Two of these are trained and operational; while eight are due to undergo training shortly. There are plans to increase this number further in the coming months. Marine special constables will undertake sea survival training in addition to the standard training required of a special constable.
Mr Underhill said:
“In my manifesto I promised the people of Dorset that if I was elected I would maintain the Marine Section. In Dorset we have 89 miles of coastline with key marine communities in them. These need to be protected.”
“However, with 20 percent cuts imposed on us by the government we have to be realistic. We have had to cut the number of paid staff within the Marine Section, but have increased support with the introduction of marine special constables (MSC).
“The MSC will be made up of boat owner volunteers, trained and equipped by the Force. By entering into a new collaboration with Poole Harbour Commissioners, this team will be bigger and better than before.”
Dorset Police has entered into an agreement with Poole Harbour Commissioners, where for 100 days a year, they will conduct joint patrols, which equates to an additional 800 hours of patrol a year.
The Force says it's continuing to explore further collaboration options with other police forces and agencies, including Hampshire Police.
Assistant Chief Constable James Vaughan said:
“We are committed to providing a quality policing service across all our communities in an effort to make Dorset safer.
”We have to make changes to the way in which we carry out some of our policing functions to ensure we continue to deliver the best service, with reduced funding.
“At the end of 2011 we approached you for your views and feedback and we are grateful that many of you took the time to reply and engage with us.
“In line with the work we have undertaken, and the commitment made in the Police and Crime Commissioner manifesto, we are pleased to confirm that the Dorset Police Marine Section will not be disbanded.”
Captain Brian Murphy, Harbour Master, Poole Harbour Commissioners said:
“Poole Harbour Commissioners would like to thank the Police and Crime Commissioner for his decision to retain a Dorset Police marine section and we look forward to continuing a close working relationship.
This is excellent news which we are sure will be welcomed by the Poole Harbour community.”